I haven’t been posting much this winter even though I’ve been riding inside at least three times a week and making some good progress. The indoor I have is small, so it poses some training challenges to keep things fresh, but I feel like I did get some harder work established. My daughter is graduating from high school this spring and the whirlwind of senior year coupled with all the house and barn improvements that need to to be accomplished before graduation have had me going every which way. So, blogging has taken a bit of a back seat, but I have been trying to be present when riding and forget all the other stuff going on.
A few things that are in the improvement column after a winter inside:
*better more balanced freestyle(loose rein) working gaits
*better more prompt leg yields off the seat/weight aids
*better lateral work off the seat/weight aids
*better engagement off the seat/weight aids
*better energy off the seat/weight aids
Are you sensing a theme here? Whenever I ran into a problem adding more energy or engagement the answer was always to do the same exercise without rein contact or bitless. Then I would realize how much hand I was truly using and how much it blocked and irritated Jet. This is obviously still a work in progress, but the realization that I can have level balance working gaits and even some elements of collection on a loose rein just using my seat has been my big breakthrough this winter. Almost universally, when I ran into problems doing harder exercises this winter it was because I got lured into using too much hand and not using my seat/weight aids enough or effectively.
We’ve had some lovely 60-70 degree days recently, so I’ve been able to get Jet working outside a bit early this year and he has been SO good. I feel like I need to knock on wood when I say it, but this has been by far the best transition from inside to outside riding ever. The unseasonably warm weather has helped, but also he has been doing harder work inside with more lateral work and engagement, so he is thrilled to go outside and tootle at the working gaits and work a lot on the flexibility exercises like serpentines, various leg yields, and also on working gaits freestyle(loose reins). I’ll start adding in more engagement and collectibility exercise over time, but right now we are focusing on relaxation and suppleness. So nice to be out in the sunshine with the birds singing, the grass green, and a happy horse. Bliss.